Chris Casey and Niagara have most upside since he was hired in 2013, and Purple Eagles hope to capitalize in non-conference schedule released Thursday morning. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)
Admittedly, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is harder to predict this season following the graduation of a strong senior core across the conference, but one team in position to potentially reap the benefits of everyone else in the league retooling is Niagara, who returns guards Matt Scott and Kahlil Dukes to a roster that has significant upside as head coach Chris Casey begins his fifth season on Monteagle Ridge.
That upside is something the Purple Eagles will hone in a non-conference schedule released Thursday morning, a 13-game slate that opens against a pair of teams projected to be in the top half of their respective leagues.
Niagara raises the curtain on its 2017-18 campaign on Friday, November 10, as the Purple Eagles invade the Reilly Center for a battle with longtime rival St. Bonaventure. Five days later, they will travel to Minnesota to take on Richard Pitino and the Golden Gophers, a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season.
The road trip continues with the first of four games that are part of the Barclays Center Classic, as Niagara will visit the Mullins Center in Amherst to take on the University of Massachusetts on November 19, then journeying across the country to face Brigham Young on November 21. The Purple Eagles will next embark on a four-game homestand, hosting a Barclays Center Classic subregional that welcomes Alabama A&M to the Gallagher Center on November 24 before either Western Carolina or UT-Arlington await Niagara the following day. Army (November 27) and crosstown rival Buffalo (November 29) conclude the month of November on the Purple Eagles' home floor.
A December 5 trek to New Hampshire is next on the docket before Saint Francis University comes to town on December 10. From there, a stretch of three games in eight days conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule, beginning with a road game against Norfolk State on December 16. A home contest against Cleveland State on December 19 precedes the final non-league clash, which occurs in Ithaca against Cornell on December 23.
Niagara's MAAC schedule will be released at a later date.
2017-18 Niagara Non-Conference Schedule (times TBD unless noted)
Friday, November 10: at St. Bonaventure, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, November 15: at Minnesota
Sunday, November 19: at UMass
Tuesday, November 21: at Brigham Young
Friday, November 24: vs. Alabama A&M, 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 25: vs. Western Carolina or UT-Arlington, 7 p.m.
Monday, November 27: vs. Army, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, November 29: vs. Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, December 5: at New Hampshire
Sunday, December 10: vs. Saint Francis U, 2 p.m.
Saturday, December 16: at Norfolk State
Tuesday, December 19: vs. Cleveland State, 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 23: at Cornell